The packaging drew me to this first. Black-streaked, burgundy vinyl housed in a cream colored folded sleeve that has the front half cut into a triangle point folded upwards, making the color vinyl visible and showcasing the triangle shape nicely against the arc of the vinyl. It’s somewhat scary to finally put the needle to such an attractive record ’cause I don’t want to ruin my impression of it. Luckily the music was just as sweet.
Both bands offer two songs existing in complementary areas of emo/indie rock. The Ashen side begins with “Brand New Promise.” There is a moment in the song when the guitar quiets down a bit and a window to the underlying structure appears. It’s then that I fully realized what a pretty song this is, and the knowledge stayed with me when the guitars cut back in. “Paradigm” has the catchy melodies as well, but suggests a hardcore backbone at times. Both songs are very pretty, with just the right amount of bite. There’s a slight pop sense involved in that the sweet melodies are so likeable, but there’s also a lot of substance here. Erin Akemi has strong vocals that meld perfectly with the music. Overall, Ashen has a very confident approach. They seem to have found the right mixture of elements. That can be an elusive thing — I hope they keep at it. They sound good.
As do Flux Capacitor. They kick a heap more rock back into the mix while also treading into moodier atmospheres. There’s a keyboard amidst the bass, drums, and guitar, and it’s a texture that is surprisingly necessary and well-used. The first song presents a powerful mood, and seems tastefully soaked in emo melodies. “Walking in My Sleep” continues in a somewhat similar direction, but has this keyboard-powered groove at parts that makes me start thinking of quirkier, dancier pop bands like Weezer and the Rentals. It would seem to be an odd step, only they make it work so well.
A solid 12″. Only four songs total, yet it feels decidedly complete. Nice!